We've all said to ourselves that we need to practice at home. I've said it, you've said it, we've all said it. We know we need to do it, but why is it so hard to stick to?
Like anything we do at home there's always distractions, 'just one more email', 'I've got so much work to do', 'I can always do it later'. How come later never seems to come?
We are all guilty of putting everything and everyone else first and letting our own self care dwindle. I'm totally guilty of this too, don't you worry!
So what do we do about it?
Here are my tips for creating a solid home practice.
Grab your props - You can do yoga anywhere and you don't actually need any props however a yoga mat and some blocks and a bolster will surely make things a lot easier and more sustainable. If you'd like to know all about yoga props you can read our article here.
Create a space that feels good. Make it your own little yoga sanctuary. For tips on how to create an at home yoga sanctuary click here
Give yourself the opportunity to make it something you want to do not 'have to' do. If you're just starting out, pick a few classes that you really enjoy, or are shorter to make rolling out your mat something your really look forward to. Call a few friends and join up to the same online class at the same time so you feel like you're practising together. This way you've also got something to talk about.
Eliminate distractions. This may mean telling the family that you've got a meeting with yourself and can not be disturbed, turning your phone off or on silent and placing it in another room or at least out of site. Some distractions are unavoidable and this is where the real yoga comes in. Let the dog walk between your feet, let traffic go past, let the neighbours mower go. Life isn't perfect and your practice won't be either. Letting go of distractions is one of the most difficult things to do especially at home but it's the magic trick to enjoying and sticking to your home practice. By all means ask your family to turn the music down but don't let distractions get in the way of your practice, practice harder and with more love until they're just objects in the distance.
Schedule it in like you would if you were coming into the studio. This is possibly my top tip to sticking to a home practice. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Can you squeeze in a quick practice in your lunch break? The choice is yours, it's your practice after all. Then all you need to do is get yourself ready, prepare what you need and have an alarm set in your calendar for 30 minutes before or however long you need to prepare and warn the fam that this is your time. The key here is making it fit in with your life, if it doesn't, you'll never stick to it.
Listen to your body. If you're in pain, stop. It's that simple. What isn't simple is distinguishing the difference between pain and discomfort especially when you're starting out. Pain is sharp and often hot, discomfort is usually dull and increases over time. Generally speaking, STOP if it’s inside the joint structure (knees, spine, hips, neck, etc.) If you do feel pain, move gently rather than suddenly out of the pose. If you feel discomfort, perhaps you can soften or adjust or even use props to assist you.
Plan, plan plan. Now this is different to scheduling your time. The beautiful thing about a home practice is you can choose whichever class you want to take. So it can be helpful to plan this out before you get to your mat, you might like to schedule your practice the day before, a week in advance or have fun creating a practice calendar. Just make sure you do it before your allocated time so you don't waste it trying to work out which class to take.
A home practice can be a great opportunity to build a meditation and pranayama practice – especially if your studio class doesn’t usually include time for it. Even five minutes of ujjayi breathing incorporated into your asana practice will leave you feeling more centered and relaxed.
Don't stop half way though. If you’re one of those people who seeks the “perfect” practice, know that it doesn’t exist! In practical terms, try not to spend the time you’ve allocated to yoga procrastinating (i.e. reading hundreds of class descriptions if you’re doing an online class, or flicking through sequences in a book). When you do finally decide on a class or sequence, unless there’s a genuine reason to stop practising, try and see it through. It’s the nature of the monkey mind to keep searching for “perfection” but whatever unfolds you will learn something (whether about yoga or yourself). Know too that the biggest lessons are usually learned from doing what you find challenging – be this physically or mentally.
…but at the same time, be kind to yourself 🙂. For all its benefits, practising at home can, of course, sometimes be more challenging than going to a studio. If finding time to squeeze your yoga practice in between work and family commitments causes you more stress than going to an external class, then that’s fine too. The key thing is that you just show up on your mat open, present, accepting and curious – wherever it happens to be.
And those are my top tips to creating a successful home practice. While practising yoga at home sounds easy enough in theory, even experienced practitioners can be uncertain about which poses to choose and how to put them together. That's why an online studio membership can be a great tool so you don't have to think about your practice, you just hit play and listen as if you were in the studio. Our online studio offers loads of classes for all levels with classes ranging from 5-75 minutes. If you're not sure if online yoga is for you why not try a 30 day pass and see how you feel about it?
What have you got to lose?